Bhaskar Ghose

This book by Bhaskar Ghose, a former civil servant is about a college founded in the 1880s by a group of scholars from a monastic order based in Oxford. This is his fifth book. Two of the previous ones, Doordarshan Days and The Service of the State were non-fiction. The other two, The Teller of Tales and Parricide were fiction, like this one.

Reviewed by: TCA Ranganathan
Charmaine Craig

The Miss Burma in the title is Louisa Bension, the daughter of Benny, a Jew, and Khin, belonging to the Karen minority. And, she is also the mother of Charmaine Craig, the author of the book.

Reviewed by: Meera Rajagopalan
Saeed Naqvi

Saeed Naqvi in the editor’s Preface states that his belief is that Urdu has served as a link language for many centuries, and that writers of Urdu literature should be better known for the common thread of humanity discernible in their stories. Perhaps for the sake of retaining the focus on the Urdu language and literature, the editor skirts the vexed history of language politics…

Reviewed by: Tarun K Saint
Amina Azfar

It is not easy to put together an anthology. One could finalize a theme with relative ease but inclusion and exclusion of texts around the decided theme can be an unusually challenging task. At a time when literary and academic circles, for the most part, swear by theoretical propositions that deny individual choice its due, the compiler must gear up for answering a series of questions on why some pieces were included and others were not.

Reviewed by: Irfanullah Faroqui
Kasturi Basu and Dwaipayan Banerjee

Why do we make documentaries? How do we make them? For whom do we make them? Where are our films shown and who sees them? What, if any, is the impact of our work? These are some of the compelling questions that are foregrounded and discussed in Towards A People’s Cinema edited by Kasturi Basu and Dwaipayan Banerjee.

Reviewed by: Anupama Srinivasan
Iqbalunnissa Hussain

Iqbaulnnissa Hussain (1897–1954) was an educationist, columnist, essayist, social rights’ activist and reformer, championing emancipation and modernization of the Muslim community, particularly its women. Stressing the importance of education, she encouraged coming out of purdah and securing economic independence.

Reviewed by: Fatima Rizvi
Ghazala Jamil

The status of women in Muslim societies is a topic of active debate in recent times. The stereotypical impression of women in such societies is that of the oppressed and the subjugated. This oversimplified impression betrays an ignorance of reality. The variation in the status of women belonging to different societies and within a society has received little attention.

Reviewed by: Binish Maryam
Zia Us Salam

Zia Us Salam’s book is largely about the process of ‘Othering’ of Muslims and growth of Hindutva ideology. Salam, a noted literary and social commentator and currently Associate Editor of Frontline, begins his book discussing the rise of Hindutva, in Part I, tracing its history and growth from the time of VD Savarkar and MS Golwalkar.

Reviewed by: Syed Kashif
Saeed Naqvi

This is an important work, not so much from the strength of its postulate, which in itself is questionable, but because it presents the thoughts of an Indian of eminence both among the fraternity of journalists, which holds him in esteem and in the Muslim community, the largest of India’s religious minorities.

Reviewed by: Wajahat Habibullah
Ed Husain

At the heart of Ed Husain’s book The House of Islam: A Global History is his misplaced faith in the West and neo-conservatism. Husain writes ambitiously as a Muslim and evocatively as a westerner. This dual personality helps him to navigate through the tensions that Islam and the West supposedly have. Husain sees himself as an enlightened westerner-Muslim, but it is the West with which he feels comfortable despite his emphasizing the spiritual power of shrines and mosques throughout the book.

Reviewed by: Iymon Majid
Carl W. Ernst

It’s Not Just Academic!: Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies is a collection of Carl W Ernst’s previously published work on basic and critical issues relating to the study of Islam, with the purpose of presenting this material in a manner that is accessible to the reading public, and not just specialists.

Reviewed by: Pia Maria Malik
By Xinxun Wu, Han Zheng And Xiaokun Wu

This book should not have been published in its present form and the fact that it has raises disturbing questions at two levels.In the first instance, the book does not appear to have gone through a proper refereeing process. If it had, many of the problems outlined would have been obvious to any half competent academic reviewer.

Reviewed by: Jabin T Jacob
Sanam Maher

It is intriguing to note that in a country deeply infested with conservative dogmas, the murder of Qandeel Baloch, an internet celebrity sensation, did shake the conscience of many. Baloch wriggled her way through the rural landscape of Pakistan to transform herself and was still struggling to find herself a niche in the urban elite circles riding mainly on social media.

Reviewed by: Priyanka Singh
Avtar Singh Bhasin

Three developments have taken place in August 2018, which is important from an Indo-Pak perspective. Following the general elections in Pakistan in July 2018, a new Prime Minister has been elected across the border. For the first time, Imran Khan has become Pakistan’s PM and his party—the PTI leading the Parliament, for the first time again.

Reviewed by: D Suba Chandran
Hussain Haqqani

Pakistan was created on the basis of Islam. The logic of that foundational act has led progressively to Islamization of the polity and society.The July 2018 General Election provides striking evidence of the enmeshing of religion and politics with the mainstreaming of fundamentalist, even extremist and terrorist outfits, into the political process.

Reviewed by: TCA Rangachari
Rajendra M. Abhyankar

Every Indian head of Government faces the problem of how to match performance with articulation. Narendra Modi came to power articulating a resounding ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy which he continued to articulate, once telling the Nepali Prime Minister that Nepal is at the very top of India’s neighbourhood first policy.

Reviewed by: IP Khosla
Saba Naqvi

One of the main challenges the institutions of Indian democracy are facing is the decline of the liberal professions. Journalists, lawyers, professors were supposed to be the front line of the army fighting for the rights of the governed. Today, they are seen more as collaborators of the governors. Why that is so is the subject matter of a separate debate.

Reviewed by: Santosh Kumar
S Narayan

Tamil Nadu is seen as a model state that combined growth and development with inclusiveness. The State’s policy initiatives were critiqued by the Right for the populist schemes and neglect of fiscal prudence and by the Left for prioritization of populism over structural changes like land reforms. Such critiques notwithstanding, the State has done better in basic development indicators, an outcome of an efficient and inclusive delivery of social sector schemes…

Reviewed by: A Kalaiyarasan
Yascha Mounk

In 1944 Karl Polanyi wrote The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Polanyi was born into a well-heeled Jewish family in Austria and grew up in Hungary, where for a brief while, he was a local political leader active in the Radical Citizens’ Party. He is best known for his work as an economic historian.

Reviewed by: Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan
Rahul Govind

Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s Twilight Falls On Liberalism, as the name suggests, diagnoses the present political conjuncture—from Trump to Brexit and Modi—as one where liberal ideas such as freedom, tolerance and fellow feeling ‘seem to be under a shadow’ ( p. ix). However, he immediately qualifies this to argue that liberalism has always been beset with contradictions in theory…

Reviewed by: By Rudrangshu Mukherjee
Ali Ahmed

Saifuddin Soz hit the national limelight when his lone vote in the Lok Sabha brought down the Vajpayee II government. In 1999, the late Prime Minister Vajpayee was into the thirteen month of his second stint—the earlier one in 1996 being aborted in a mere thirteen days. Vajpayee’s coalition lost the No Confidence Motion in April 1999 by the narrowest margin possible of one vote…

Reviewed by: Ali Ahmed
Chitralekha Zutshi

The Valley of Kashmir arouses a peculiar interest as a land of almost mythic and mysterious beauty and, since the end of colonialism in South Asia, as a space of violence. This imagination has taken further root since 1989 following the emergence of an insurgency and a movement for independence in Kashmir and from India and the drastic militarization of life by the Indian state.

Reviewed by: Ankur Datta
Ankur Datta

Kashmir, an idyllic haven in the foothills of the Himalayas, is a space in which conflicting discourses have been written and read. Cultural notions of Kashmiris in image and word have been reconstructed, I believe, to emphasize the bias that reinforces the propagandist agenda of the hegemonic powers involved in the Kashmir dispute, India and Pakistan.

Reviewed by: Nyla Ali Khan
Sanjeev Jain and Alok Sarin

The Partition of India in 1947 was supposed to forever settle the Hindu-Muslim question. Yet, pick up any newspaper today, turn on the television, browse the Internet, one aspect is clear: as a nation we have not learnt the lessons from the greatest tragedy of the subcontinent…

Reviewed by: Amandeep Sandhu
Ezra Rashkow, Sanjukta Ghosh and Upal Chakrabarti

This volume is a festschrift to Peter Robb for his contribution to the cholarship on the history of South Asia. Robb who retired from SOAS was a cherished mentor and colleague, and this book, the culmination of a remarkable collaborative effort, is testament to that fact. The range of subjects on which Robb has written is truly impressive and stretches from the sturdy realm of agrarian history to ruminations on memory, history and identity in colonial and postcolonial India.

Reviewed by: Aparna Balachandran
Himanshu Prabha Ray

We have in recent years come across a spate of publications relating Archaeology to Religion, be it Buddhism or Brahmanical, and Archaeology of Buddhism has particularly been studied. I can immediately refer to a recently published collection of essays edited by Sanjay Garg called Archaeology of Buddhism…

Reviewed by: Suchandra Ghosh
Manan Ahmed Asif

Manan Ahmed Asif has written aprovocative, though eminently readable, book challenging settled historiographies on Muslim origins in South Asia. ‘Beginnings are a seductive necessity… for the modern nation, the romance of origins and the gravitas of a unique genealogy are imperative,’ Asif declares unambiguously in the opening pages of the book.

Reviewed by: Sayed Areesh Ahmad